‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Veep’ ride sentimental wave into Emmys

The Emmys usually offer a mix of old and new, but sentimental favorites could be more pronounced at this year’s nominations, with “Game of Thrones” defending its crown, “Veep” waging its final campaign and “The Big Bang Theory” having a shot at one last big bang.

All three shows ended long runs in May. While the last is a long shot to earn best-series recognition, star Jim Parsons could be in contention for his fifth Emmy when nominations are unveiled Tuesday for the 71st edition of the TV industry’s highest honors.

Still, that’s only part of the suspense surrounding the ceremony, in which even some newer shows come armed with awards glory, such as Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method” and “Thrones” alum Richard Madden for his role in the drama “Bodyguard,” both winners at the Golden Globes in January.

New series can bring freshness to the awards, even if “The Kominsky Method” brings old pros Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin into play. Relatively few, however, appear positioned to break through, while the landscape could be more favorable for sophomore shows, among them “Barry,” “Killing Eve,” “Fleabag” and “Ozark.”

Perhaps this year’s fiercest race resides in the limited-series category, where the contenders include a premium-TV feast that consists of HBO’s “Chernobyl,” Netflix’s Central Park Five miniseries “When They See Us,” Showtime’s prison drama “Escape From Dannemora,” and FX’s showbiz drama “Fosse/Verdon.”

HBO also has star-driven vehicles in the latest run of “True Detective” and “Sharp Objects,” starring Mahershala Ali and Amy Adams, respectively, although the latter premiered over a year ago, which might make it feel like old news.

Emmy handicappers (yes, there are such things) have given “Thrones” a strong chance of amassing nominations not only as best drama (an award the show has claimed three times previously) but for several key cast members in supporting categories. Even so, the sharply divided response to final flurry of episodes has raised doubts about whether the program — already the most-honored series in Emmy history, with 38 awards through six seasons — can go out in a blaze of glory.

If not, the lineup of rivals will likely include NBC’s “This is Us” carrying the banner for broadcast TV, AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” BBC America’s “Killing Eve” (and especially star Sandra Oh) despite second-season gripes, Netflix’s “Ozark,” and HBO’s first-year drama “Succession,” whose parallels to a certain powerful media family might be especially enticing to Emmy voters. (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” notably, missed this year’s eligibility window.)

Among comedies, “Veep” — a three-peat winner from 2015-17 — will face stiff competition from HBO running mate “Barry,” starring Bill Hader as a hitman who discovers a love of acting; and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” the Amazon dramedy that won several top honors last year. Wild cards include NBC’s quirky “The Good Place,” Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Amazon import “Fleabag,” and Netflix’s “GLOW” and “Russian Doll.”

Those marquee categories, of course, are merely the tip of the iceberg, which includes everything from Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ bid to bring to her crowded mantle of acting statuettes to nine — after undergoing treatment for cancer — to late-night TV, where John Oliver has accepted the award baton from former boss Jon Stewart, despite Stephen Colbert’s ratings surge during the Trump era.

Other storylines among the dozens of categories range from the ongoing battle for prestige between HBO and Netflix (which broke its streak as the most-nominated network last year) to how well the nominations reflect the industry’s diversity. There’s also a strong likelihood that movie stars such as Adams, Ali, Julia Roberts (for “Amazon’s “Homecoming”), and “Fosse/Verdon’s” Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams will add sizzle to the acting races.

Beyond that, the jockeying among streaming services continues, given high-profile wins by Amazon and Hulu, in the last year before studio-backed streaming ventures, like Disney+ and HBO Max, enter the fray. In that respect, if the 2019 Emmys feel messier and more disjointed than usual, they might just be a teaser of what’s to come.

The main Emmy telecast will be held Sept. 22 and televised live by Fox.